You’re A Mean One, Ms. Weinerman

1195060030Marsha Weinerman is perhaps the least popular person in the Red States this week. The executive director of Cambridge’s election commission earned the wrath of many when she ordered the Boy Scouts to remove boxes they’d set up to collect items to send to troops from polling places on Election Day. Sensing that she’s viewed as the Grinch from Cambridge, Weinerman wrote the Cambridge Chronicle to explain what happened.

She maintains the election commission had no power to tell the Boy Scouts whether or not they could set up their boxes in the polling places.

Several weeks before the election, an Election Commission staff member responded to a verbal request from [troop leader Jamisean] Patterson about this project. Mr. Patterson was told that the Election Commission obtains written permission from the property owners to use their property as a polling place, and because our permission did not include permission for others to use the property, he would have to contact the property owners of the polling places to attempt to get permission for his proposed project.

On Election Day I was advised of a complaint from someone objecting to the presence of the boxes in a polling place and discussed the matter with the City Solicitor’s office. Because I did not have confirmation that the Boy Scouts had obtained permission to put their boxes in the buildings, the boxes were removed.

If the election commission doesn’t have the power to grant permission to the Scouts, how can it order the removal of the donation boxes? Secretary of State William Galvin told the Chronicle the drive was legal since it was an “unrelated political message,” so a law wasn’t broken. Shouldn’t it then be up to the discretion of the property owners if the Scouts set up shop?

Instead of writing the paper to say that she was right, perhaps Ms. Weinerman should take advantage of a golden opportunity. It looks like the Massachusetts primary will move to Feb. 5, which gives the commission plenty of time to research the law and invite the Boy Scouts to legally request donations that day. The troop will get many more donations during the primary, and the city can assure the uber-liberals and the Red Staters that their none of their rights are being violated.